The Year is 1996
My intent with these articles is to create a guide to WWE Pay-per-views for any casual wrestling fan. If you see something on here I have covered, and it interests you, feel free to click on the link to read more. If I haven’t covered it, which is unfortunately most of 1996 right now, just throw the match or Pay-per-view name in your search bar and you’ll find something to watch.
If you’re reading from the future – hello aliens. Feel free to put anything not hot-linked into this article, into the website’s search bar, and you’ll find the piece I haven’t written yet. Unless Bruce Willis comes back in time to kill me. With my luck though, it’d be like f—kin Dave Coulier who gets sent back in time to kill me.
It began as any other year had before it, with The Royal Rumble. Held on January 21st, 1996 at the Selland Arena in Fresno, California. The Main Event for that night saw Bret The Hitman Hart battling The Undertaker for Bret’s WWE Championship. Taker won by disqualification, allowing Bret to retain his belt. The Royal Rumble Match saw The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels eliminate his buddy Diesel last, winning his second Rumble in a row.
The next month played host to In Your House 6, which featured, Diesel and Bret Hart in a steel cage match for Bret’s WWE Championship. Right below it on the card was Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart to determine the number one contender for the Main Event at WrestleMania 12.
This was WrestleMania month. This was the twelfth Showcase of the Immortals and it features one of the best matches in the history of the Pay-per-view extravaganza.
You know that old saying? April showers bring May flowers. Well there were no showers in April of 1996 for the WWE. The Pay-per-view held that month was In Your House 7: Good Friends, Better Enemies. It had a packed card of wrestlers like The 1-2-3 Kid, Marc Mero, Owen Hart, Steve Austin, Vader, The Ultimate Warrior, and Goldust. But it was the Main Event that captured my attention.
Shawn Michaels vs. Dielsel, No Holds Barred is a great match featuring one of many standout moments for Kevin Nash, where he took off Mad Dog Vachon’s fake leg and hit HBK with it.
Going back to that saying, it seems April flowers brought some heavy ass May showers. On May 26, 1996, the WWE tried to air the Pay-per-view In Your House 8: Beware of Dog, but a severe thunder storm knocked out the power in the arena during the event, resulting in only two matches having aired out to the millions watching at home. Vince McMahon rescheduled it two days later and called it Beware of Dog 2.
King of the Ring was the June Pay-per-view that year. It featured Shawn Michaels vs. The British Bulldog as the Main Event, but was entirely overshadowed by the emergence of Stone Cold Steve Austin.
“Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!”
In Your House 9: International Incident was held on July 21st, 1996. It featured Shawn Michaels, Sycho Sid and Ahmed Johnson vs. Vader, British Bulldog and Owen Hart in a six-man tag team match. I’m going to go entirely off subject, but the event wasn’t that great, so f—k it. Sycho Sid is not a typo, the character apparently just didn’t know how to spell psycho.
Unless his first name is Sycho and his last name is Sid? That’d be unfortunate.
This has always been the month for the summertime extravaganza, SummerSlam. This year it was held one day before my birthday, and it showcased a packed card. Sycho Sid, British Bulldog, Undertaker, Mankind, Owen Hart, Steve Austin, Yokozuna, Vader, and HBK all wrestled that night.
This is the Pay-per-view where they got that clip they’ve been using for years of HBK running and jumping over the top rope onto Big Van Vader. Shawn was also apparently a huge d—k to Vader the whole time, but that’s a subject for a different article.
In Your House 10: Mind Games was the event held this month, and it’s notable for featuring what is quite possibly Mick Foley’s best match as a downright wrestler. It was Mankind vs. The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels and Foley himself will tell you that it was one of the best matches of his career. The physicality that HBK gets out of Mick is really impressive. Do yourself a favor and watch that.
In Your House 11: Buried Alive was held on October 20th, 1996 at the Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, IN. It featured Undertaker and Mankind in a Buried Alive Match. Given their history as amazing opponents, it was no surprise that they made the concept work. I mean, they worked a Boiler-Room Brawl and people loved it. This was a cakewalk.
This has always been the month for Survivor Series. This year’s featured Bret Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin a match to determine the number one contender for HBK’s WWE Championship. Bret won it, but The Showstopper didn’t retain. Sycho Sid stole the belt after assaulting Jose Lothario and then wailing on Shawn with a Television camera.
The final month of the year. 1996 was HBK’s year, but it didn’t end that way. After being dethroned by Sid, he was wrestling the Main Event dark match at In Your House 12: It’s Time. Sycho Sid and Bret Hart wrestled the televised Main Event and The Hitman lost. Sid would retain until the first PPV of the new year, Royal Rumble 1997, where HBK recaptured his Championship gold.
NOTE: 1996 wasn’t picked at random. It was chosen as the logical starting point for someone covering the Pay-per-view schedule of The Attitude Era. It wasn’t all the way there yet, but they were staring to make progress in updating the show from it’s over the top, cartoonish past.